Freelance Tech Journalist / Technical Writer, Engineering Consultant

Jeremy Cook Consulting

Jeremy Cook is a freelance tech journalist and engineering consultant with over 10 years of factory automation experience. An avid maker and experimenter, you can follow him on Twitter, or see his electromechanical exploits on the Jeremy S. Cook YouTube Channel!

Articles 1 - 20
Open Source

Experimental Foot Pedal Computer Interface - Blog

May 16, 2022

The vast majority of computer control is done by hand, using a keyboard, mouse, or touchscreen, but what about your feet? They’re perfectly capable of tapping out a signal, but generally sit unused when at a computer. In my latest experiment, I set out to see if common spring-loaded foot pedals would work as a computer interface, perhaps for controlling shift, control, or other modifier keys. Short answer: yes, it can work. There are, however, a few complications.

Analog & Power

Optimize KiCad Schematic to Facilitate PCB Routing - Blog

May 12, 2022

As a PCB design becomes more involved, managing complexity becomes ever more important to the process. Last month’s article about using hierarchical sheets presents an excellent tool for organizing schematics. This is helpful, but at the end of the day these theoretical connections must be transferred to the PCB layout editor for on-screen routing, and ultimately physical manufacturing. To help simplify physical routing, consider how components will be arranged when designing your schematic.

Analog & Power

KiCad Hierarchical Sheets for Enhanced Schematics - Blog

April 28, 2022

For simple KiCad circuit designs, a sheet with lines going from one component to another is good enough. Add in net labels, and slightly more complicated drawings can be cleaned up nicely. At some point, however, your design may become too large to fit onto a standard sheet. You’re faced with a choice: expand the sheet to cover more area–useful, but often clumsy–or break schematic data up into a series of linked hierarchical sheets.

Analog & Power

V-Score Board Separation: Why, How, and Thru-Hole Temporary Connection Trick - Blog

April 27, 2022

Some time ago, I wrote an article about panelization basics, mostly focusing on “mouse bites” as the panel separation technique. The other way to separate boards is using a technique called v-scoring. The basics of this technique are shown in the Royal Circuit Solutions video below, which is meant to selectively weaken a PCB for separation at a later point.

Analog & Power

Add a QR Code to Your KiCad PCB Design - Blog

April 25, 2022

QR codes applied to a printed circuit boards are a great way to reference documentation, a store, or wherever other info is needed for a situation. Adding on to your PCB is quite simple using KiCad, as outlined in this article.

Analog & Power

Raspberry Pi 4 Prototyping Enclosure Made From PCBs - Blog

March 22, 2022

Printed circuit boards are amazing devices, able to zip electrons from component to component with the greatest of ease. Consider, however, that PCBs are extremely tough, and can be manufactured accurately and inexpensively, to be delivered in a few days.

Analog & Power

​​​​​​Printed Circuit Board Panelization Basics - Blog

March 01, 2022

When you design a small run of boards for fabrication, it’s extremely likely that the PCB manufacturer will place it in a panel for manufacturing with a number of other designs. This “panelization” allows for boards to be made for low prices, since board space can be efficiently shared between orders.

Open Source

Kickstarter Fulfillment Workspace and Jigs - Blog

February 25, 2022

I’m currently just over halfway through fulfillment on the JC Pro Macro 2 keypad kickstarter project. 178 people pledged with the expectation of a reward, meaning that putting a bit of time and thought into my fulfillment workspace at the beginning was an excellent use of time and resources.

Processing

Quick Start: Raspberry Pi GPIO Terminal Interface - Blog

February 17, 2022

In this guide, I’ll take you through how to set up a Raspberry Pi from a blank SD card and how to turn on GPIO pins remotely via a terminal. I’m using the MacOS terminal, but other programs, such as PuTTY should work just as well.

Analog & Power

PCB Layers Explained - Blog

January 31, 2022

The concept of a “printed circuit board” is often thought of as a 2-dimensional entity, whether through EDA software like KiCad, or simply looking at a bare board–that is indeed significantly wider than it is tall. That being said, these boards, as anyone who has worked with them knows, consist of layers.

Consumer

Do You Need $30 Wire Cutters? Or are $2 Snips OK? - Blog

January 27, 2022

There’s a manufacturing parable which tells of a person who can’t sharpen his axe because he’s too busy cutting down trees. The point being that you must invest some time/money into your means of production, even if it’s difficult in the short term.

Consumer

More Useful 3D Printed Parts - Blog

December 30, 2021

Nearly 2 years ago, I wrote an article about my favorite useful designs for 3D-printing. As it just so happens, I recently put out a time-lapse video of my last 2 years of 3D-printing. While there were a few decorative items thrown in, the vast majority of my printing efforts involved useful implements, so I think it’s time for an update!

Analog & Power

More KiCad Layout Quick Tips and Techniques - Blog

December 20, 2021

When I was first introduced to KiCad, routing traces was described as a bit of an art, something to be learned from experience. I’d say that is true, however, in addition to my first quick tips article, here are some additional–perhaps more strategic–techniques that I can offer to those getting started.

Open Source

KiCad PCB Layout Quick Tips - Blog

December 10, 2021

Throughout the last year-plus, I’ve written a number of articles outlining my experience with KiCad. It’s an incredible open-source EDA package, and what I consider my first and best piece of advice for those getting started is to go ahead and order your first PCB when it seems workable. It may not be perfect, but you’ll certainly be able to improve things on the next run.

Open Source

Why You Should Get Involved With a Local Hackerspace, Makerspace, or Other Technical Organization - Blog

December 10, 2021

I’ve been a member of the Tampa Hackerspace (THS) organization for several years. It’s been an important resource for me, and the connections I’ve made there have been valuable on many occasions. If you’ve been on the fence about joining such a space, I’d encourage you to do so. If you need a little push, or if you’re not sure about the whole concept, read on!

Open Source

Hands-On With the Teensy 4.0 - Blog

November 30, 2021

Almost 2 years ago, I met Paul Stoffregen, creator of the Teensy line of dev boards, at the 2019 Hackaday Superconference. Besides being pleased to meet a well known hardware innovator, I was also happy that he presented me with a sample of his Teensy 4.0 board–from a custom leather swag holder, no less.

Analog & Power

Interactive HTML BOM Plugin for KiCad - Blog

November 29, 2021

KiCad is an incredible open source EDA package that I’ve been using since early 2020. Being able to design your own PCBs is quite useful, and I find the design process to be a lot of fun.

Consumer

Tips on Promoting a Successful Hardware Kickstarter - Blog

November 09, 2021

As I write this, I’ve successfully crowdfunded my JC Pro Macro 2 (JCPM2) mechanical keypad on Kickstarter. I’m extremely proud of this computer interface device, and when this article is published you should still have a few days to get one yourself. It’s an expanded version of the mini keyboard and rotary controller, with the addition of more LED lighting, and additional GPIO breakout features.

Processing

Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W: Powerful and Efficient - Blog

November 08, 2021

When the original Raspberry Pi was released in 2012, it caused quite the stir, selling out in hours. Several years later, in 2015, Raspberry Pi released the scaled down Raspberry Pi Zero, which featured similar specs to the original, but at a mer $5 price tag–and was even included on the cover of their MagPi magazine. A WiFi-enabled ‘Zero was released in early 2017, further enhancing its capabilities.

Analog & Power

Visualizing a 3D Circuit World Through KiCad - Blog

October 04, 2021

EDA packages like KiCad, and the design of electrical circuits in general, are normally thought of as a 2D affair.

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